Hughes River Expeditions

Fly Fishing

Middle Fork of the Salmon River

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Fly Fishing

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The Middle Fork of the Salmon is a “blue ribbon” Westslope Cutthroat Trout fishery. Fishing is normally good from mid to late June on and is best in late summer (late August and September). All fishing is catch and release.

The crystal clear waters of the Middle Fork are home to wild westslope cutthroat trout, and the fly fishing is incredible. The river also supports a smaller number of rainbow trout, cut-bow hybrid trout, and the elusive and protected bull trout.

We outfit four annual September trips on the Middle Fork, and they are great times to fly fish the river.

Fly Fishing on your Middle Fork Trip

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All our Middle Fork trips are outfitted for fishing.  Many of our summer guests plan to include fly fishing as some part of their Middle Fork trip. Experienced fishermen usually prefer to bring their own gear.

Included in your trip:
Fishing equipment and tackle
Fishing guides, pleased to provide instruction.

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MFS 23 Anglers on fishing boat edson 1

Add a dedicated fly fishing float boat

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Hughes River Expeditions, Inc. guides deluxe fly fishing trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon with expert guides. Serious fishermen can arrange “fishing boats” with 2 fishermen/boat & guide service.

Middle Fork Fishing Boat Rates

  • Additional $950/person to upgrade to a 5 Day fishing raft
  • Additional $995/person to upgrade to a 6 Day fishing raft
  • based on 2 fishermen/boat

Fly Fishing Pointers

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Hughes guides are happy to provide instruction, and we always have tackle boxes filled with local flies, leaders, fly & line dressing. Westslope “cuts” are beautiful with olive green to steel gray backs, and yellow/brown sides, with red/pink on the belly. Don’t forget their namesake, the bright orange slash on the lower jaw.

Trout on Flyline

Tributary fishing is an added treat. During your trip, we will stop to hike up tributaries (Loon, Camas, Big Creek). These brushy tribs offer some great fishing, but with little room to cast. Bring a short fly rod, and enjoy these streams that are a great part of fishing the Middle Fork. “Catch & release” also applies in the tributaries.

The “wiley” westslope cut takes dry flies aggressively. We fish on the surface with large, easy to follow dry flies (Humpy, Stimulator, Sofa Pillow, Parachute Hopper, Buck-tailed Caddis). Westslope cutthroat are an indicator of excellent water quality, and watching them rise through gin clear water to take dry flies is thrilling.

The Stonefly Hatch that occurs annually around mid June to early July, can be one of the fishing highlights of the season. The huge “Huey like” stoneflies hover over the Middle Fork and occasionally crash into the stream where they are a delicacy for westslope “cuts”. Mid-summer fishes very well. Also, a prime time to fish the Middle Fork is late summer and early fall when the water temps drop, and the fish become very aggressive as they lay on weight for the winter.

Guest Experiences on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

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What a fantastic trip!  Hughes river guides killed it for us all!  Thanks for a ton of fun!
DeZarn, Eugene, OR (2021)

Recommended Tackle for Fly Fishing on the Middle Fork

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The Stanley Fly Shop in Stanley has an excellent selection of Middle Fork flies & tackle. 208-774-3377.

  • Fly rod (3 to 6 weight) (7.5-9.5 feet long) (2, 3, or 4 piece rod – 4 piece preferable)
  • Reel & line (3 to 6 weight, double taper floating line)(balanced to rod – size should match line & rod weight)
  • Protective case for rod
  • Vest or tackle bag with flies, leaders, dry fly and line dressing (wax or silicon)
  • Leaders (7.5 – 9 ft tapered leaders size 4X to 6X) and tippet material 4X to 7X to add onto tapered leaders
  • Clippers for trimming leaders
  • Forceps, or other tools to grasp the hook shank for releasing fish
  • Needle nose pliers, forceps, etc. to bend hook barbs flat
  • Polarized glasses with croakies
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Suggested Dry Flies. (generally sizes 8-18)

  • Humpy (yellow, orange, red, purple)
  • Royal Wolff
  • Goofus (Improved Humpy) (yellow, orange, red, purple)
  • Buck-tailed Caddis
  • Irresistible
  • Elkhair Caddis (yellow, red, orange, olive, tan)
  • Stimulator (yellow, red, orange, olive, purple)
  • Royal Coachman
  • Royal Wolf
  • Sofa Pillow
  • Parachute Adams (grey & purple)
  • Renegade
  • Parachute Hoppers (red, yellow, orange, brown, green, black, tan)
  • Foam Bodied Hoppers (red, yellow, orange, brown, green, black, tan)
  • Chernobyl Ant (red, yellow, orange, brown, green, black, tan)
  • Giant Stonefly
  • Chubbies (red, yellow, orange, brown, green, black, tan)
  • Tarantulas (red, yellow, orange, brown, green, black, tan)
  • Dunns (grey, yellow, purple, olive)

Suggested Wet Flies

  • Early morning or late evening in low light, use wet patterns with a long leader. Add extra tippet to achieve a longer leader.
    • Marabou muddlers
    • Wooly bugger (black, purple, olive, brown)
    • Muddler minnow
    • Rabbit Fur Leaches (black, purple, olive, brown)
    • Sparkle Minnows (silver, black, olive, purple)
    • Bitch Creek Nymph (black, olive)
    • Prince Nymph
    • Copper John
    • Double Beaded Stone (yellow, brown, grey, black)
    • Hares Ear
    • Pheasant Tail
    • Rubber Legs (Stone)
    • Zebra Midge (red, purple, black)
    • Zug Bug
    • Rainbow Warrior

Nymph fishermen should have imitations for mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies.

Beautiful Cutty

Fishing Licenses

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Regulations are “catch & release” with barbless hooks. Hughes guides teach careful release to assure that this incredible fishery continues. The westslope cutthroat’s low reproductive rates and aggressive nature make “catch & release” an excellent management choice for the Middle Fork.

You can purchase license at pre-trip meeting at River One.

You can also purchase an Idaho fishing license directly from Idaho Fish & Game Dept. [https://license.gooutdoorsidaho.com/Licensing/CustomerLookup.aspx] Cost is $22.75 for the 1st day, and $7/day for each additional day. Children under 14 can fish on a license of an adult parent.

We’re here to answer any and all of your questions!

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